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Dry Cleaners and Thrift Stores Spread BB?

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  1. abitbugged

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Dec 27 2009 23:08:25
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    I picked up a sleeping bag from the dry cleaners about a year ago. It seems I started seeing black spots and getting occasional bites within a few months of it. The spots and bites are much worse lately though. I am calling a PCO tomorrow.

    Now I wonder if I could have contracted them from this dry cleaner. So many people bring clothing to them. It's like clothing central. They use very mild, earth friendly soaps that do not smell.

    I also used to shop in thrift stores. And did around that time too. Buying clothing, etc. No furniture. I will never shop a thrift store again! It's too dangerous with all the donated clothing and furniture.

    Does anyone have ideas about this?

  2. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Dec 27 2009 23:19:27
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    You can get bed bugs from dry cleaners. It is essential that (a) people tell the dry cleaner they have bed bugs when they bring things in, and (b) the dry cleaner both cares AND knows what to do.

    Unfortunately, even with the best of intentions, (a) does not happen all the time. We all know you can have bed bugs and have no idea you have them.

    That said, I do use dry cleaners when I need to, despite the risks. Use the best service you can.

    BTW, some have suggested that the newer, more environmentally-green dry cleaning methods may not kill bed bugs. I am not sure if this has been tested. Old school may be best until we know.

    And thrift stores/secondhand shops/flea markets? Fuhgeddaboudit!!!

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  3. freakedoutandbroke

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Dec 28 2009 1:18:10
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    Not good news. Husband and I banging our heads against the floor. Took the comforter to a dry cleaner (a "green" one) and paid $40 to get it cleaned. Waste of money? Gaaah!

  4. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Dec 28 2009 1:40:34
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    freakedoutandbroke - 21 minutes ago  » 
    Not good news. Husband and I banging our heads against the floor. Took the comforter to a dry cleaner (a "green" one) and paid $40 to get it cleaned. Waste of money? Gaaah!

    Well, you can't be sure it killed the bed bugs, but as I said, no one has tested this.

    It's really hard to debug comforters in the dryer, and this may be so with dry cleaning too.

  5. abitbugged

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Dec 28 2009 1:52:36
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    Okay, I appreciate your answers because I couldn't find that specific answer anywhere else.

    I just googled the term "dry cleaners spread bed bugs" and this very post came up as number one only an hour after I wrote it! That tells me there isn't enough information on the internet yet about how an affected dry cleaning business can actually spread bed bugs.

    If I google "dry cleaners bed bugs", I find advice telling people to take their non washable clothes to the dry cleaners to get RID of bed bugs. Logic should tell us that dry cleaners are susceptible just like anyone else. Why won't the bed bugs come right back to you?

    The business owners are not at fault. They are victims too. What are we supposed to do? Outlaw dry cleaning? On the other hand, think about all the clothing that goes in and out of dry cleaners every day. I think the full scope of the bed bug problem is largely underestimated.

    I will never use a dry cleaner again. Or go into a thrift store either.

  6. abitbugged

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Dec 28 2009 3:12:49
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    One more note about dry cleaners. Recently three blazers came back in bags that are open at the bottom. So, eventhough dry cleaning may use a heated process, they also use open plastic bags. Which, of course won't stop bed bugs that are in the general vicinity of the clothing.

    I guess that is my main concern. Thank you.

  7. freakedoutandbroke

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Dec 28 2009 10:19:09
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    I guess I'll use the ol' seal'n'store time treatment on my comforter. Not opening that particular ziplock until 2012.

  8. trash-aint-treasure

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Dec 12 2011 0:00:46
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    Sounds like recluses have an advantage over the rest of us, as far as avoiding these bugs. Reminds me of the family guy episode where brian has to do community service, and the old lady he's helping sprays him with de-lousing powder.

  9. NeverSurrender

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Dec 12 2011 0:24:00
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    Nobugsonme - 1 year ago  » 

    freakedoutandbroke - 21 minutes ago  » 
    Not good news. Husband and I banging our heads against the floor. Took the comforter to a dry cleaner (a "green" one) and paid $40 to get it cleaned. Waste of money? Gaaah!

    Well, you can't be sure it killed the bed bugs, but as I said, no one has tested this.
    It's really hard to debug comforters in the dryer, and this may be so with dry cleaning too.

    Why is it hard to debug comforters in the dryer? I had a comforter that was on one of my beds that had BBS. I put it in the dryer for two hours alone at the highest temperature. Do you think that should have killed them? I have the comforter in a huge ziplock. I just purchased a closet pactite although haven't used it yet. If the dryer didn't kill them will the pactite?

  10. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Dec 12 2011 2:01:37
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    NeverSurrender - 1 hour ago  » 
    I have the comforter in a huge ziplock. I just purchased a closet pactite although haven't used it yet. If the dryer didn't kill them will the pactite?

    Either can surely kill them if they're heated long enough.

    The problem with comforters, in my understanding, is there is a lot of insulation there. The only way to be sure they were killed (if inside) is to have a thermometer inside the comforter so you know it's reaching killing temperatures.

    Since that would involve destroying it, leaving it in for a good long time is what I would suggest. I can't say how long. Even if I knew from testing one comforter with a thermometer, yours might be thicker or more insulated.

    Perhaps David James will have a suggestion for times in the Closet.

  11. cilecto

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Dec 12 2011 14:01:29
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    Nobugsonme - 11 hours ago  » 

    NeverSurrender - 1 hour ago  » 
    I have the comforter in a huge ziplock. I just purchased a closet pactite although haven't used it yet. If the dryer didn't kill them will the pactite?

    Either can surely kill them if they're heated long enough.
    The problem with comforters, in my understanding, is there is a lot of insulation there. The only way to be sure they were killed (if inside) is to have a thermometer inside the comforter so you know it's reaching killing temperatures.
    Since that would involve destroying it, leaving it in for a good long time is what I would suggest. I can't say how long. Even if I knew from testing one comforter with a thermometer, yours might be thicker or more insulated.
    Perhaps David James will have a suggestion for times in the Closet.

    I would think that you could get around this by running the item extra long (to allow penetratration), but relatively cool (to prevent damage).

    Also, I was reading an article the other day about dry cleaning and it noted that dry cleaners use heat to evaporate the solvents they use. This may somewhat mitigate the risk of bed bugs. I also suspect that the traditional "hanging conveyor" may also be less than conducive to BB. Of course if a cleaning shop has a major infestation, or your suit happened to pick up the random stray (perhaps from the infested apartment above the shop)...

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  12. AshamedandScratching

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Dec 12 2011 14:13:58
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    Keep in mind that a good cleaner in a city with lots of infestation knows his risks and may be taking precautions. It's worth asking. I went back to my old wash-n-fold habit, thinking I'd still packtite my clothes anyway and at least I'd only lose the time I need to packtite during the week. My clothes came back to me sealed in a thick plastic bag that was tied securly at the top. They had clearly gone directly from drying into the bag, so I just put them away. That laundromat is my new favorite.

  13. JWhiteBBCTV

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Dec 12 2011 14:16:37
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    I actually worked with the NCA (national cleaners association) for a presentation that I provided to them on the topic. In working with them, I walked through my local dry cleaners to understand the process and pick any help them identify flaws in their process.

    What I learned is the biggest point of concern was the container that received the clothing. In many dry cleaners they throw all of the intake into one container and then distribute the intake to the different stations depending on the work being performed. That being said, once it gets to the stations, there is very little chance bed bugs are surviving any of the cleaning processes.

    Most of the drycleaning chemicals destroy bed bugs almost immediately. Some of the greener solutions take a bit longer but still killed all of the bed bugs I exposed them to on contact. Some of the older solutions actually began to dissolve the bugs themselves.

    All of the presses and steamers are intensely hot and bugs won't be able to survive them either.

    The only real opportunity I see here is if the dry cleaning building or office is infested and then infests the clothes after the process. That being said, most of the clothes are hung in plastic covers which would limit the chances again.

    Overall, the chance that you get bugs from the drycleaner (assuming they are following normal procedure and a trustworthy and progressive dry cleaner) is extremely minimal. I would look for the NCA stamp on their window or use a drycleaner that's a bit more upscale if possible.

  14. bbgirl

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Dec 12 2011 17:47:54
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    I've been obsessing a little bit about dry cleaners too given that many infested households gather up almost everything to take to the dry cleaners and it seems certain that from time to time the store especially the intake areas must get exposed to them. But if we assume that the clothes after the process are clear and they are bagged even if the bag is open at the bottom I would think that the residual chemicals would have a repellant effect. I only take non washables and I know when I get the clothes back I can smell the chemicals until they air out. Fingers crossed.....I would pick them up right on the due date and not leave them hanging around the storefront though

  15. punaisedelit

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Dec 12 2011 18:46:41
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    I don't know about dry cleaners, but last time I was at the laundromat, the old lady who works there told me a girl had come with eight garbage bags full of clothes, including some with the labels still on, to have them washed. I suspected it was a case of bed bugs, but this girl said nothing, and the clothes were washed and dried, perhaps not in a manner sufficient to kill the bugs.

  16. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Dec 12 2011 19:13:25
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    With all the machinery in laundromats, I've wondered...could they use thermal or do they have to spray? It seems like they couldn't even use a steamer due to all the electrical. Maybe our Enligh or Italian experts could weigh in?

    I go to a laundromat about twice a month to do larger items (I have a stackable washer/dryer) and tend to bring in 3 or 4 loads just to get it all done.

    I've noticed a number of people bringing in 4+ (8 would be common for some families) garbage bags of clothes, sheets, etc. I do think some of it is BB related. At any rate, I would never use the wire bins they provide and I wipe off the folding tables before using (I bag everything folded and then packtite
    of it). My laundromat disassembles the wire baskets once every couple of weeks and runs them through a power washer since they quickly get dirt/grime.

    I'm sort of OCD (ok...very)...and am allergic to dust mites..so I wash most items on hot. I've wiped down a washer before putting clothes in (so I'm not pulling my clean stuff out of a dirty washer) and it's been pretty dusty/dirty. The place I goes to wipes every washer and dryer down at night so I find going first thing in the morning helps cut back on the grime.

    If the drycleaners has a laundry area attached (which some do), that seems like it would be higher risk of having the laundromat visitors (including BBs) visit the drycleaner side of the business.

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